CELTIC and Rangers conclude their Europa League group-stage excursions on Thursday night. Scottish football expert Mr Fixit (@MrFixitTips) previews their encounters.
Celtic v RB Salzburg | Thursday 13th December 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Celtic need just a point to reach the Last 32 of the Europa League and should get it with home advantage against Red Bull Salzburg.
The Hoops were outclassed as they lost 3-1 in Austria to a side that's notched 15 points out of 15. But Brendan Rodgers's side bounced back with a super show to beat RB Leipzig and then Rosenborg away.
Not to lose – and therefore qualify ahead of Leipzig – the Hoops are 4/11 at 888.
Rodgers would love a repeat of Saturday's 5-1 thumping of Kille and will look to top performances from the likes of James Forrest, Ryan Christie and Tom Rogic and be defensively solid at the back.
Red Bull have clinched the group so that may also be in Celtic's favour although they want to protect their 100% record. The Austrians have netted 15 goals and conceded three and that suggests goals on Thursday night. Over 3.5 Goals pays 9-4 at 888 while Over 2.5 is less risky at 10/11 with Marathon.
Forrest netted first against Killie and he and Christie have been the dangermen recently. To score Forrest is 10/11 (BetVictor) but I’ll happily have some of the 10/3 (Paddy Power) he notches at anytime.
If Celtic lose Leipzig will qualify with a home win against Rosenborg and are just 2/13 at 888. It was the 3-1 to the Germans in Norway and they should again cover the -1 handicap at 4-11. The prices show how crucial it is for Celtic not to lose and I'm on the Scots to get the result they need to qualify.
Rapid Vienna v Rangers | Thursday 13th December 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
It’s as tight as can be in Group G and any two of the four sides can qualify. Rangers travel to Rapid Vienna and Villarreal entertain Spartak Moscow, and while there are various permutations, basically if you win you're though.
Steven Gerrard's men, who can only qualify with three points, defeated Rapid 3-1 at home after conceding early but recent results have been poor with five points dropped against Aberdeen and Dundee.
Also there have been warnings about a terrible playing surface compared to what one Rapid star said was like playing “on a putting green at Ibrox”.
Rangers will need to contend with that but will be lifted by a huge travelling support with 6,000 fans obtaining tickets and another 4,000 travelling to Vienna in hope.
Gers though are boosted by the return of Alfredo Morelos and he is 2/1 at Unibet to net after hitting a double against them at Ibrox. Morelos was badly missed in the 1-1 draw at Dundee on Sunday with Kyle Lafferty misfiring and Gerrard's told him cut down on the cards as he's missing too many games.
The Colombian is a handful when he's on his game which is why he'll be given time to sort out his disciplinary problems but he's got to listen to critics and rein it in a bit.
As I said when tipping a red at Dundee, there seems to be a sending off every time Rangers play. At Dens it was opposition defender Nathan Ralph and Dundee's appeal against the decision has failed.
Thursday night’s game will be fiery and the poor pitch could cause some problems so consider a red in the match or a sending off.
Rangers are 2/1 at Unibet to notch the win they need while Rapid are 11/8 with the draw 28/11. There's no doubt the Scots were the better side at Ibrox and have lost just one of 13 in Europe this season but Rapid players say the Ibrox crowd acted like a 12th man and they believe they'll get the job done.
I'm going for a draw (28/11 Unibet) and there should be goals because Rangers are always likely to concede, but scored five in their previous away games at Villarreal and Spartak Moscow. Both to score pays 4/7 while Over 2.5 Goals is better at 81/100 with Marathon.
Celtic v RB Salzburg – Draw (12/5 BetVictor)
Celtic v RB Salzburg – Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Marathon)
Celtic v RB Salzburg – James Forrest to score at anytime (10/3 Paddy Power)
Rapid Vienna v Rangers – Draw (28/11 Unibet)
Rapid Vienna v Rangers – Over 2.5 Goals (81/100 Marathon)
Rapid Vienna v Rangers – Alfredo Morelos to score at anytime (2/1 Unibet)